“40 Years Young” (original title: Cuarentones) is a Mexican drama-comedy film that narrates the tale of Cesar, a chef who must confront a painful truth and compete in the Grand Prix cook-off in Cancun, México. They try to manage their commitments and attempt to win the championship. In this film, director and writer Pietro Lopieno masterfully conveys a beautiful story in Spanish concerning passion, love, and the culinary arts. “40 Years Young” takes us through genuine moments of happiness and humor.
Chef Paolo incorporates singing and dancing into his dining experience. It’s a specialty unique to his restaurant that some experts believe are a distraction from the quality of the food served. With this in mind, certain guests fail to appreciate the meal, and Paolo detects that the restaurant’s requirements are not being satisfied. While his partner Chef Cesar is preoccupied with his family, Paolo encourages Cesar to enter a cooking competition sponsored by the prestigious Delicacies magazine. Let’s understand how they respond to the difficulties that come their way and embark on a new adventure together.
Plot Summary: What Is The Film About?
Chef Cesar and his wife, Amelia, got married at the age of thirty, a decade ago. Cesar and Amelia had a child named Enrique in the early stages of their relationship. Cesar never questioned the boy and treated him as if he were his child. He remained an excellent husband and father to Amelia and Enrique. Chef Paolo is Cesar’s best friend and colleague. They’ve been close for about the same amount of time as his marriage. Paolo has pursued several ladies and married them, followed by several divorces to those women.
Chef Cesar and Paolo own and operate a restaurant that has a lot of dancing, music, and singing. While their methods may appear to be cutting-edge, they have never lost their ability to prepare a delicious dinner as a result of these factors. After ten years of fighting against tradition to stay afloat and pay their expenses, Paolo informs Cesar that, while his birthday is approaching, the best gift he can give him is a chance for them both to compete in a culinary competition in Cancun, Mexico, hosted by Delicacies, a world-famous food magazine.
César has an intimate and close talk with his son, Enrique, about football and a girl he likes at the beginning of “40 Years Young.” We observe his wife arranging to add new places to their European tour, but there is no mention of his birthday, which is approaching. When Amelia’s former lover returns to her and expresses his desire to be a part of the story because Enrique is the apple of his eye, a particular secret is revealed. Cesar is broken from the inside because Amelia has been keeping something from him.
Cesar’s mother passes away suddenly the next day. Paolo gently inquires if his mother was aware of what Amelia withheld from him, to which he replies that she was not. Both are relieved to know that Cesar’s mother isn’t the one who has to shoulder this load. Cesar’s admission into this competition comes at the perfect time for him as it gives him a chance to get away from his wife.
When Chef Paolo arrives at the competition and things start to fall into place, Director Casas makes a jab at him, warning him that his tactics of using song and dance to divert the judges won’t work and that he needs to keep his eye on the prize or the competition will not go in his favor. Paolo and Cesar begin their journey in this tournament by meeting two girls named Selina and Naomi at the hotel. Cesar’s heart begins to feel passionately for Naomi as they form a bond. Things take a turn for the worse, and Cesar is forced to confront his inner demons head-on.
Major Spoilers Ahead
’40 Years Young’ Ending Explained: How does Cesar find a way through all these hurdles?
Amelia was seeing Horacio one month before she married Cesar. She was dating both Horacio and Cesar when she found out she was pregnant with Horacio’s child. Horacio is only released from prison ten years after Cesar marries Amelia, and this breaks Cesar’s heart. Amelia’s mother and grandmother admonish her for being so cruel to both the guys, and she has managed to lose both of them. While Horacio wants to be a part of Enrique’s life, Enrique still considers Cesar to be a dear person and maintains their relationship.
Paolo and Cesar meet two women, Selina and Naomi, when they arrive at the hotel. Selina develops a sense of closeness with Paolo, while Naomi develops a bond with Cesar. Naomi’s foot gets stuck in the rock, and she is bitten by a snake on the first day when they travel out to a lagoon. She shouts for help, and when Cesar dives in to save her, he twists his ankle as she emerges from the water. Cesar is limping around the second day of the tournament as he prepares his meals with Paolo and presents them to the stern-faced judges.
Cesar’s emotional stronghold is Naomi as he spends more time with her. Her ideas about life help his mind make sense of how he must deal with his wife and his feelings that are in utter disorder. He longs for her and feels strongly for her, but he keeps his feelings to himself most of the time. Naomi instills in him a sense of awe and a carefree attitude that makes him yearn for more, and he believes it is exactly what he is seeking. Paolo charters a yacht for Cesar’s birthday, and Selina, Paolo, Naomi, and Cesar all go out on the ocean.
Naomi shares some personal details about herself. She went through a difficult period and unexpectedly struck rock bottom, but her life turned around when she reconnected with an old college acquaintance. Cesar, too, confesses some truths. Cesar fell deeply in love with Naomi, and Naomi was careful not to fall for him.
Cesar is trapped in the bathroom with Naomi on his birthday when the doorknob won’t open, and they both battle to find a way out. They exchange a kiss after falling from the struggle to escape out of that cramped space. Amelia dials Cesar’s number at the same moment. His broken heart pains yet again. Paolo finds a method to cheer up his friend, but the truth is that he hasn’t told him everything. Director Casas dropped by in the morning, just before they departed for the yacht, and informed Paolo that the cook-off that night would include a surprise ingredient, and they would have to produce a magnificent meal right away.
When it’s time for the cook-off in the evening, Cesar is annoyed when he learns that there will be a surprise ingredient, but he accepts the challenge. They discover the ingredient is Ham during the cook-off. Paolo and Cesar fight in the kitchen when they run out of ideas, and Paolo stomps away, leaving Cesar to face this war alone. Cesar prepares a traditional Ham sandwich, which the judges praise, making it a fortunate win for the two of them.
The hotel offers Paolo a note on the last day of the cook-off. When Paolo opens it, he discovers Naomi and Selina have boarded a plane and are saying their goodbyes. Paolo swallows the note and tells Cesar he ate bitter chocolate, well aware that this will shatter Cesar’s heart. Amelia and Enrique arrive at the hotel at the same time, putting Cesar in a pickle. Cesar falls asleep since he doesn’t know how to deal with Amelia, but Paolo wakes him up and tells him that the girls have left.
Cesar buys two aircraft tickets in the hopes of meeting the two females at the airport’s gates. They both race to the airport and are finally able to meet the two young ladies. Naomi tells Cesar she likes him, but she knows they won’t be able to have a future together because they have two separate lives and live in two different countries. Cesar understands what she means as his heart breaks gently, and he kisses her farewell.
When Cesar’s son breaks away from his mother, he approaches him, chops a piece of his hair off, and presents it to Cesar, requesting him to conduct a DNA test, which surprises Cesar. Cesar follows Naomi’s instructions and does it. They eventually return to the competition and win second place on the same day. When the Grand-Prix Cook-off is done, they both raise a glass of Champagne to toast their second-place finish, and Paolo is ecstatic but dissatisfied.
Cesar’s suspicions are dispelled when the report is released, and everyone in the room learns the truth. They figure out a way for all three parents to visit Enrique. And both men keep their distance from Amelia. Antique accepts the new situation because he now has three parents who can look after him. Cesar’s love for Enrique is still as strong as ever, and he considers him to be his only son.
“40 Years Young” is a great film about people who are enthusiastic about what they do and have a shockingly high emotional quotient to overcome these obstacles. Even though they are world-class cooks, Paolo and Cesar are aware that their connection must remain holy, even when lemons are thrown in their faces. Their bond is one to be envious of, especially because it has the potential to last another decade.
The film poignantly focuses on the many upheavals that one person can go through in their lifetime, while also encouraging us to be strong and that if we want to progress and go far in life, we should always go together. We all wish we had Paolo as a best friend, someone who is honest and loves unconditionally. The film is ideal for a weekend escape, with plenty of cuisines and exotic locations to daydream about.
“40 Years Young” is a 2022 Drama Comedy film directed by Pietro Loprieno.